John was extremely generous in demonstrating his own particular ‘recipe’ for making a painting. He had great advice for organising your practice. As an artist, the materials you use are those of your choice, and they should be materials that will do what you want them to do. You need good tape to get a good line. Don’t skimp on your masking tape. A non-driver, John buys boards and canvases of a size that he can carry under one arm. So he eliminates many problems and stresses at the planning stage.

John uses everyday objects of various sizes and shapes as templates. For a circle this could mean a vinyl record, a can of tuna or a paint tin, depending on the size he needs. The following method for masking off circular shapes works well on boards.

Draw lightly around the template with pencil. Then measure a square around the circle, cover the drawn circle with tape and then put the circular template down again so it is exactly within the square.  Put the template object down again, and this time cut around it with a knife.  Remove the tape from inside the template, and there you have a masked off circle. The most important thing is to run your thumbnail firmly over the tape to seal it.

When working on canvas, you don’t want to use a knife because of the danger of cutting through the fabric. Another way to mask a curved shape is by first tracing your template, then cutting notches in a piece of tape and sticking that down so that it follows the line you have drawn. Once again, the most important thing is to stick it down very firmly with your thumbnail.

When masking squares, pay particular attention to pressing the corners down firmly.  Paint away from the tape so that you’re not pushing paint underneath. If a little paint gets through, you can always touch it up. You have to be a little bit patient – it doesn’t always go how you want it to.

Julia Gorman 2014


[pix_box type=”info”]The art materials used by John Nixon in this Masking Tape Demonstration are Blue Masking Tape, Chapman & Bailey Artist Stretchers, Artfix Linens and Cottons[/pix_box]